If your finances are fairly complicated—kids, mortgages, trust funds, etc.—you probably retain the services of an accountant, who pores over your financial documents every spring and prepares your annual tax return. While it certainly is possible for an accountant to make a big mistake, costing you thousands of dollars in penalties and interest, the IRS won't much care; you are the one who is on the hook, not your tax preparer!
Your Accountant Prepares Your Return—But You're the One Who Signs It
Why is the IRS so uninterested in the shenanigans of your accountant, who (if he is pulling the same trick with his other clients) probably is costing the government a lot of money? The reason is simple: in the end, you are the person who signs your name to your annual tax return, and you are responsible for its contents. It is your responsibility to read through your return thoroughly, to make sure your accountant hasn't:
- Misstated your income, either intentionally or accidentally
- Declared deductions to which you are not entitled (say, a home-office deduction if you don't actually work at home)
- Lost track of your allowable dependents, or made up dependents you don't have
- Deliberately misinterpreted the tax laws to your benefit
- Miscalculated your Social Security obligations, mortgage deductions, etc.
Of course, one of the reasons people rely on accountants rather than filling out returns themselves is because our nation's tax laws are so complicated. It may seem harsh for the IRS to hold you responsible for your accountant's mistakes or transgressions, given your lack of insight into the tax process, but that's a simple fact of life. Often, the best thing you can do is settle your bill with the feds—and find another accountant!
In Trouble with the IRS? Contact Travis W. Watkins, PC Today
If the IRS is holding you accountable for a mistaken (or even fraudulent) tax return filed by your accountant, you need to secure expert legal representation, since a good attorney can (at the very least) put your behavior in the best light. Contact the Oklahoma tax experts at Travis W. Watkins, PC (800-721-7054) for a free consultation today!